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How to Decide on the Best Truck Driver School near Bullhead City Arizona

Bullhead City Arizona truck hauling cargoCongratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Bullhead City AZ. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's essential to receive the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain variables that you'll need to consider before making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Bullhead City residence. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the optimal way to guarantee you'll obtain the right training. Just remember, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.

Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?

Bullhead City Arizona truck traveling down expressway

In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within Bullhead City AZ and throughout the USA, an operator needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short explanations of the two classes.

Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. A few of the vehicles that operators may be able to drive with Class A licenses are:

  • Interstate or Intrastate Tractor Trailers
  • Trucks with Double or Triple Trailers
  • Tanker Trucks
  • Livestock Carriers
  • Class B and Class C Vehicles

Class B CDL. A Class B CDL is needed to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. A few of the vehicles that drivers may be qualified to operate with Class B licenses are:

  • Tractor Trailers
  • Dump Trucks
  • Cement Mixers
  • Large Buses
  • Class C Vehicles

Both Class A and Class B CDLs may also need endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.

How to Assess a Truck Driver School

Bullhead City Arizona cement mixer truck with patriotic paint job

When you have decided which CDL you would like to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Bullhead City AZ truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other variables, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are a few additional factors that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Bullhead City AZ area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school's course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.

How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Bullhead City AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school's track record is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with the Arizona licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.

How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the following section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the individual instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Bullhead City AZ schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.

How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously mentioned, it's essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers may be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.

Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent trucking school will furnish lots of driving time to its students. After all, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time can vary between schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Bullhead City AZ schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.

Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to receive free or discounted training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having associations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Bullhead City AZ schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.

Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a higher quality.

Are the Classes Flexible? As previously noted, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it's important that the Bullhead City AZ school you select offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still working while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.

Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Bullhead City AZ employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Bullhead City AZ area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed.

Learn More About Bullhead City Trucking Training Schools

Enroll in the Right Bullhead City Truck Driver Training

Picking the right truck driver school is a critical first step to launching your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you may want to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Bullhead City Arizona.

 

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